Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur really has it all. Hitchcock films, F. Scott Fitzgerald books and Matisse paintings encapture the South in ways which can only be described as a romantic myth, too good for Earth.

The history of its culture, art, cuisine, fashion and celebrities makes this 31,000km2 region as appealing as it was back in the Golden Age of Travel. The prestigious Film Festival of Cannes, world-renowned models such as Brigitte Bardot, and the fairy-tale story of Hollywood star turned Princess, the late Grace Kelly call the Côte d’Azur home; this is really no surprise.

There is just something so romantically idyllic, fresh and pure about this place. Many locals, ex-pats, and travel bloggers agree with us and have shared their top tips on what to see, what to eat and activities in the region.

Lady Relocated

With thanks to JennySaint Jean Cap Ferrat

Must see places 
My favorite afternoon was spent hiking around the peninsula of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat. From Nice, take the train a short 20-minute ride to Villefranche Sur Mer. You can walk to the start of the hike past the beach. The views are stunning and you’re rewarded with lovely private beaches along the way.

Must eat
Fish! The seafood is fresh and delicious. The Nicoise Salad is the region’s specialty and was on almost every menu. We also tried socca from street vendors, a Nice specialty made with chickpea flour, olive oil, salt, and pepper. It’s simple, yet so satisfying.

Must do activities
Of course, you’ll see Monaco and Cannes, but take the time to venture to lesser known places like Antibes. It was my favorite beach and a quaint town to boot.

French Riviera Traveller

With thanks to Jeanne

Salade Niçoise

Must do activities
Most of the year the inimitable Saint-Tropez is a little Provençal town where locals play boules or shop at the bi-weekly market in Place des Lices. In August battalions of celebrities head to the legendary sandy beaches and chic beach clubs of nearby Ramatuelle. In autumn wind whistles across the dunes and over vineyards bursting with grapes while locals discuss the summer scandals over pastis in a dockside bar.

Food tip
Settle for nothing less than a real Salade Niçoise which is best in summer when tomatoes are in season. Mesclun and spring onions are a necessity, topped by hard-boiled egg, tuna, and small black Niçois olives. After that it becomes contentious. Anchovies? Artichokes? Fava beans? Red peppers? One thing is sure: all vegetables must be raw.

Must do activities

All along the coast, the sea water is crystal clean and warm. To appreciate the true Riviera lifestyle, choose a local beach club and rent a lounge chair and umbrella for at least a half-day. Let the Mediterranean sun and a chilled glass of rosé banish all thoughts of winter.

My Travelpedia

With thanks to Arun Nîmes

Must see places
You can’t visit the Riviera without taking a trip to the vibrant lavender fields at the Provence, with gorgeous vistas of the surrounding area and mountain peaks of Eze. The beautiful coastline is covered with pebbled beaches at Nice and sandy beaches at glamorous Cannes and Antibes.

For some urban exploring, a must visit is the quaint medieval villages of Gourdon and Saint Paul De Vence, the Roman architectural ruins at Nîmes or the buzzing Port of Marseille lined with yachts. For some natural exploration the Mercantour National Park, inland from Nice is a nice alternative to the beautiful coastline. If the heat gets too much, cool down in one of the many museums – the International Museum of Perfume in Grasse or the Musée Picasso has a lovely collection of paintings and sketches of Pablo Picasso in Antibes. Whatever you decide to do you will never be disappointed – Art, culture, heritage, history, and fashion together sum up the entire Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.

Food tips
The Signature dish of Marseille is Bouillabaisse, made up of Fish. Wash this down with a glass of Pastis, which is an aniseed liquor. For desert, move East along the coast to try the Signature cake of Saint Tropez – the Tarte Tropézienne. A must try food is locally produced cheese which can be had either along with wine or added to salads. You can’t visit Nice without trying the Ice cream at Fenocchio ice cream parlor. It is really amazing and loaded with a great number of options. For a drink in the evening, I would suggest the Absinthe Bar in Antibes.

Tarte Tropézienne

Must do activities
Try the segway tour in Nice which combines both fun and cultural experiences. After a segway tour, go get your feet wet! You can try out many different water sports in Nice and nearby areas: try canyoning, kayaking, and rafting. If that wasn’t enough, I would suggest going hiking, horse riding, cross country cycling in Grasse. A great and romantic way to travel is to explore the French Riviera by train or car along the coast.

Alternatively, you can enjoy the gorgeous creeks on a yacht ride at Nice, Grasse, Cannes or Marseille. If time permits go for a cruise to Monaco from Nice – and if you have any extra cash to spend go shop at some gorgeous boutiques in Cannes.

Best of Nice

With Thanks to Allison CoeCastleHill_Nice

Must see places
The soul of Nice can be found in its historic old town, Vieux Nice, where you can get delightfully lost in its kaleidoscope of colorful streetscapes, explore the Cours Saleya open-air produce and flower market, and then pop through one of the ancient archways and you’re on the beach! 

Across from the beach, take the free elevator to the top of the Chateau, where you’ll find amazing views, a massive waterfall, ancient ruins… but no actual chateau. Click here to find out why… There is more to this historic hill than meets the eye!

Food tips
Le Bistro du Fromager – an ‘only-in-France’ experience, with its eclectic cheese-inspired cuisine served in a wine cellar.  Don’t miss the pasta tossed in a giant wheel of parmesan, it’s one of my personal favorites. Chez Palmyre started as a mother/daughter team in 1926 and changed hands 8 years ago when the 93-year-old mother died and the 77-year-old daughter retired. It’s kept the country store ambiance and friendly prices while elevating grandma’s cuisine to something heavenly.

La Rossettisserie – a delectable selection of spit-roasted meats; specify if you want a private table or the long communal table where you can make new friends.

Must do Activities
Matisse Museum: when Matisse first came to Nice it rained for the whole month, so he sadly painted the interior of his hotel room over and over. On the final day, the sun came out and when he saw the light he was hooked: he stayed in Nice the rest of his life. 

Cours Saleya Monday Antique Market: explore the sprawling Nice Brocante, where you can find antiques, collectibles, and fascinating French bric-a-brac.

Jazz: home of the Nice Jazz Festival, Nice is a town that knows how to swing, from the most established jazz club to the tiniest hole-in-the-wall… Shapko in Old Nice is one of my favorites, with live jazz, blues and funk every night of the week.

 The French Riviera Blog

With thanks to Kevin HinVillageEze

Must see place
Whilst in Nice, head up the Castle Hill and enjoy the picture postcard view from the top of the historic Tour Bellanda. Soak in the Mediterranean sun glinting on the Baie des Anges, admire the Belle Epoque architecture of the Promenade des Anglais and marvel at the colorful baroque rooftops, domes and spires of the Old Town of Nice.

Food tips
When exploring the stunning perched village of Eze, stop at the Nid d’Aigle restaurant right at the top for a simple but very tasty traditional meal in a medieval setting before going to explore the magical Botanical Garden with its panoramic views over the eastern Riviera.

Must do activities
To enjoy the French Riviera, just walk… There are numerous beautiful coastal paths where the mountains blend in with the sea – my personal favourite is the walk around Pointe Sainte Hospice on the eastern side of Cap Ferrat where you can enjoy lovely beaches and creeks in pristine waters facing the Italian coastline.

Catriona Megahey

Catriona (known correctly as Ka-tri-na or mistakenly as Ka-tre-o-na, but has given up trying and adheres to both) grew up in Hannover, Germany to Northern Irish parents. Spends her time trying to be active either cycling, playing football, GAA or drums.
Catriona Megahey